All Cheerleaders Die

US | 2013 | Directed by Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson

Logline: A scheming high school student joins the cheerleading team in order to exact revenge on one of the football jocks, but a supernatural turn of events causes chaos.

I’m inclined to think Lucky McKee sold his soul to the Devil in return for the critical acclaim he received for his very impressive second feature May (2002), which has since gained a worthy cult status. His debut effort was the video feature All Cheerleaders Die (2001), and he and Sivertson, apparently, always intended on remaking it when the time was right. I think they should’ve left the dead cheer where it lay.

Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) takes it upon herself to seek sly revenge on the scumbag who was dating her childhood friend Alexis (Felisha Cooper) when she died following a cheerleading mishap. The alpha jock, Terry (Tom Williamson), immediately starts dating one of the other cheerleaders, Tracy (Brooke Butler). Maddy is disgusted. But she has another agenda which is revealed at movie’s end.

Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) is the high school weirdo Goth misfit, and also happens to be Maddy’s ex-girlfriend. She’s into crystals and witchcraft. When things go tragically pear-shaped for the cheerleading team, including sisters Hanna (Amanda Grace Cooper) and Martha (Reanin Johannink), following a confrontation with the football jocks, Leena comes to the rescue with her trusty rainbow collection of supernatural crystal goodies. Before you can say “Iknowwhatyoudidlastsummer” the dead cheer gals are undead and thirsty for the taste of copper, preferably with a little field dirt thrown in. Maddy’s undercover revenge plan is knocked sideways as the girls fight strange new desires.

The casting and performances is the best thing about All Cheerleaders Die. Curiously there are three Aussie gals (Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Johannink), all holding their Yankee own, especially Stasey, who deserves a much better vehicle for her talents. But if only the movie was as kickass as it thinks it is. McKee and Sivertson are trying to be clever by trying to subvert horror/exploitation clichés, only to fall into the snake pit they’re attempting to jump over. The tone shifts wildly, as does the plot. To make matters worse, the special effects - especially those involving the crystals – look chintzy as all hell. It’s a shame, because the trailer promised an uber-trashy irresponsible good time, but the trash factor is more bubblegum than filth. Apparently a Part Two is intended. I won’t be attending that game.

Okay, so while it’s not as hopeless as Diablo Cody’s attempt at a femme fatale high school undead horror movie, Jennifer’s Body, All Cheerleaders Die is more like a mish-mash of The Craft, Heathers, and Bring It On, except all those movies worked a dream. Maybe the problem lies more with Sivertson, but Lucky’s namesake isn’t doing him any favours. The Woods was a snoozefest, Sick Girl was a disappointing entry in the Masters of Horror series, and The Woman wasn’t nearly as subversive as it should’ve been.

Fuck it, I'm gonna throw a sexist spanner in the works. I know I said the casting was solid, but call me old fashioned; since when did cheerleaders’ prerequisite not include big busts?!